So word is out that two Democratic Senators will not be seeking re-election this year. That's Dodd of Connecticut and Dorgan of North Dakota. Given how hard it is to knock off incumbent politicos in this Country, retirements have huge impacts on election outcomes. Dorgan leaving is a major hit. North Dakota doesn't exactly lean to the left, it is going to be damn hard to replace Dorgan with a Democrat. Dodd leaving, ironically enough, helps the donkeys. Dodd has been caught up in a rather thin scandal over his mortgage, and was going to have trouble getting re-elected. But Connecticut, Holy Joe not withstanding, does lean to the left, and whatever Dem runs in Dodd's place will have a better chance than Dodd himself.
Given the state of the Congress, this is how the entire progressive legislative agenda will be determined: by the career choices of aging US Senators. The right guys retire, its better health care, financial regulation, and the world doesn't die in fire. The wrong guys call it quites, and not so much.